What’s Really in Trump’s New FY18 Budget?

trump-signing-order

The Trump administration recently released a FY2018 budget proposal. The government’s fiscal year starts on October 1, 2017, so that gives Trump about six months to work with Congress to iron out details. Last year, Congress completely ignored Obama’s budget, because they had no intention of continuing down that budget path after Obama left office.

Trump’s plan clearly outlines the changes he wants to see in federal spending, but a presidential budget doesn’t touch mandatory spending at all—it only covers discretionary spending.

It’s important to understand the difference between the two. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of the federal budget is categorized as mandatory spending: interest on the debt, Medicare, and Social Security. Mandatory spending is governed by other laws and based on the eligible population.

That leaves only 27% for discretionary spending, which Trump describes as “defense and everything else.” These limits are set by Congress.

Within that framework, Trump wants to increase defense spending, start the border wall, and make funding available for school vouchers. To pay for it, Trump eliminates the funding from 19 agencies and makes cuts in other agency budgets. The EPA, the State Department, and Agriculture Department which took the biggest hits.

Here are the 19 agencies for which funding would be completely eliminated:

· African Development Foundation
· Appalachian Regional Commission
· Chemical Safety Board
· Corporation for National and Community Service
· Corporation for Public Broadcasting
· Delta Regional Authority
· Denali Commission
· Institute of Museum and Library Services
· Inter-American Foundation
· U.S. Trade and Development Agency
· Legal Services Corporation
· National Endowment for the Arts
· National Endowment for the Humanities
· Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation
· Northern Border Regional Commission
· Overseas Private Investment Corporation
· U.S. Institute of Peace
· U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
· Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Four arts groups with a combined $971 million budget, including NPR and PBS, have been eliminated completely. Trump says that most of the funds go to support non-profit groups like orchestras, dance companies, and radio stations, and can and should be funded by non-government entities.

The State Department takes the biggest hit with a “huge” 29 percent cut. Trump refocuses aid to countries with great strategic importance to the US, and he requires a complete reorganization and shrinking of the State Department. Climate change prevention programs and climate change payments that Obama pledged to the U.N. are also eliminated.

Next in line is the Agriculture Department with a 21% hit to the agency’s discretionary spending budget. Details haven’t been outlined, but Trump won’t allow cuts to either SNAP (food stamps) or crop subsidies. Trump wants to see USDA staff reductions across the country, and cuts to various education and loan programs administered from within the agency.

The budget calls for a 14 percent cut in the Education Department that drastically reduces funding for low-income and minority college students, while making $1.4 billion available for school choice options like charter and private schools.

One of the largest government agencies, the Department of Health and Human Services, will see major cuts in its discretionary spending, like an 18 percent decrease in global research funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). However, Trump increases funding for efforts on opioid addictions, something he fervently campaigned on.

The Labor Department also suffers a double digit cut of 21 percent to reduce the amount of funding spent on job training programs for disadvantaged youth and seniors. It also calls for job placement programs to be the states’ responsibility rather than the federal government’s role. The budget calls for closure of poorly performing job placement centers and increases efforts to tackle massive fraud in unemployment benefits.

The Treasure Department would see a slight decrease of 4 percent, mainly in reducing the IRS funds by nearly $240 million.

One of the few departments to get a budget increase–6 percent—is the Veterans Affairs (VA). Most of that money, around $4.5 billion, would improve access to health care and fill nearly 45,000 vacant medical job openings.

With so many budget plans floating around, it’s easy to get confused. Trump’s budget plan is for the next fiscal year. The bipartisan budget from Congress, released on April 30, is the budget to ensure government funding this FY through September, to avoid a government shutdown until Trump’s budget takes over.

~ Liberty Planet